Ernie’s PGA Championship Preview

09 Aug

As many of you will know, this week’s PGA Championship has some added significance for me, with it being the 100th major of my career.

Obviously, it goes without saying that I’m proud to be playing in my 100th major. I expanded on this in more detail during the joint press conference on Tuesday with Phil Mickelson who also reaches 100 majors this week. Click here for the full story. Also, I’m grateful that my sponsors and partners are supporting us and engaging with fans across our various social media channels. But it’s not my style to get overly carried away with the ceremonial side of things. This is a big week and my focus, as with the previous 99 majors, is on doing everything I can in the coming few days to try to get myself in a position, mentally and physically, to play my best golf.

The venue this week, Quail Hollow in North Carolina, is one that we’ve become very familiar with as it has played host to the PGA TOUR’s Wells Fargo Championship for a number of years. It’s very much a player favourite. I first came here in 2006 and had heard the flattering reviews and the comparisons to courses like Winged Foot. For me, it lived-up to expectations. In many ways it reminded me a lot of the old traditional-like courses that we often played major championships on. And now here we are playing a major championship at Quail Hollow. It feels right, to be honest.

Since we last played the Wells Fargo here in 2016, though, the course has undergone some significant renovations. Tom Fazio and his team have done an amazing job, making a great golf course even better. There are three new holes. Thousands of trees have been removed, which has a visual and strategic impact on many holes. They’ve also introduced a new type of grass on the greens, Champion Ultradwarf Bermuda, and I’ve got to say the surfaces are pure. Hats off to everyone involved in the renovation project and on the presentation of the golf course this week.

Undoubtedly, Quail Hollow is a good, solid, all-round test for a major championship. The fairways aren’t that wide, so you need distance and accuracy off the tee in order to give yourself some good chances going into greens that have a lot of undulations, slopes and run-offs. It also has one of the toughest closing stretches in golf, a final three holes called the ‘Green Mile’. That could get interesting come Sunday afternoon!

Anyway, as I’ve said in recent weeks and months, my game is fundamentally in pretty good shape. We just haven’t been putting all the pieces together over 72 holes. That can change very quickly, though, and I know from past experience that it only takes a little spark to get on a bit of a hot run.

Just before we sign off, I want to share some good news in the announcement today that the Governing Board of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) has approved the inclusion of the Sunshine Tour Big Easy Tour (BET) into the OWGR System in 2018. We launched the BET in 2011 to provide playing opportunities for our nation’s young talent and help them take the next step up to full Tour status. It’s been a big success and I commend the Sunshine Tour, not only for the initial idea but for the support since then. The BET now forms an integral part of the world’s professional golf structure, providing the leading five players every year with a pathway to the Sunshine Tour. Congrats to everyone involved.

Follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy.

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